Last month, i said that combo videos and combos in general comprise a relatively small piece of the complete fighting game puzzle. How exactly do they factor into the overall picture?
Tactically speaking, executing a combo is a lot like finishing a traditional three-point play in basketball. As a reward for driving past a perimiter defender and baiting an interior defensive mistake, the player is granted an additional free throw after the made basket. The two primary components of free throw shooting are technical ability and maintaining composure.
Can free throws decide games? Absolutely. Does anyone consider free throws a core strategic aspect of the game? No. They serve a clear purpose, but there’s much more to the game on a fundamental level: spacing, timing, footwork, adaptation, defense, etc.
In fighting games, landing a combo involves recognizing an opportunity, evaluating damage options, having the technical ability to perform the combo, and maintaining enough composure to pull it off under pressure. Anyone who drops a combo during tournament play should absolutely be penalized for failing to complete a simple task that they can ice ninety-nine times out of a hundred in practice. That’s a perfectly valid part of the game.
To kick off the X-Men: Children of the Atom shots, here’s a still from our Super Fireball Battle special premiered at Evo2k10. Whoever comes up with the best title for it gets to choose the character paired with Chun Li for the next SF4 Biweekly TACV! As always, the rules are one entry per person and i’ll choose my favorite on Monday.
COTA Cyclops fires a barrage of s.HP and c.HP optic bullets at Sentinel’s s.MP missles, while Sentinel starts up his s.HP laser beam. Both characters are suki-canceling after every eligible attack to cut down recovery times.
Apart from their charge-back cannonball and button-mash specials, Honda and Blanka share a number of core design similarities. They both have long-range, high-damage normals with just enough frame advantage to get by. Both are bound by slow dashes. Neither can chain light attacks. Neither can combo into lvl2 EX Focus Attack or perform any FADC ground combos without counterhit. It’s no surprise that their basic combos follow the same blueprints.
0:11 Dhalsim’s vertical j.LP reaches into the last active frame of HP Electric Thunder. Blanka recovers in time to whiff HP Rolling Attack and juggle with LP Ground Shave Roll. The super command is delayed to reuse the same charge. This trick is easier to duplicate near the corner, because the Rolling Attack recovers much quicker. Unfortunately, Ground Shave Roll also stops instantly upon reaching the corner. Since Blanka automatically starts rolling on contact, it’s impossible to land more than one hit when starting all the way in the corner.
0:18 There are two components to pushback in SF4. Pressing a button expands the attacker’s hitbox to a specific size. If the opponent is standing at point blank range, that expansion pushes them back before the attack even connects. Take a look at Rufus’ c.HP for an extreme example. The second component is of course the pushback caused the strike itself. In this clip, Gouken’s EX Senkugoshoha thrust counteracts Blanka’s s.HK pre-impact pushback, in addition to acting as a counterhit meaty setup. Then the end flip of Blanka’s close s.HK pushes off against the corner. Combined, these two factors eliminate both components of s.HK pushback in the first combo. The second combo doesn’t have the advantage of Blanka being cornered because he needs the corner to juggle MP Ground Shave Roll after HP Electric Thunder.
0:27 Normally crossups are bad for combos in SF4, because they cause opponents to lean backward, which expands their hitbox in that direction and prevents you from getting in close. However, Blanka’s close s.MP causes so much pre-impact pushback that crossup j.HP doesn’t make a difference. It would’ve pushed the dummy that far away regardless. Blanka is usually not a good combo target but he does have a wide low hitbox, which is enough for something.
Over the course of compiling material for Super Fireball Battle and style exhibition v.one for Evolution 2010, we ended up with quite a few unused variants. Some of those contributors have compiled their surplus material into standalone bonus videos.
Think 118 hits is enough to show everything COTA Spiral can do? Battousai proves otherwise with this trio of outrageous combos (along with a pair of berserk Wolverine clips). This was Capcom’s first Marvel series game, so they weren’t exactly careful with combo engine rules before realizing how crazy things could get.
As with much of the footage in SFB, the source material was longer than what made the final cut. In Bao’s case, Remxi had choreographed the mirror pair performing a whole gymnastics routine before they even started reflecting fireballs. Not to mention, there were two other versions of their battle which were left out simply for character diversity.
Both SF4 Sagat combos by error1 probably would’ve made it into style v.one if not for the fact that they were recorded in 16:9 resolution. I tried to fit them into the video but they always stood out too much. Almost everything else is an alternate of a clip found in the video, but they’re all fun to watch – especially the SFA2 Rose clips.
Being able to hold and maintain the momentum of a fight allows you to create higher leverage situations. A player who is on defense in a high leverage situation — in other words, he has a very low amount of life remaining, or is at risk of losing a large amount of it — is mentally forced to decide whether to make riskier decisions knowing that making a mistake results in losing the most important resource you have (life) …
Hit-confirming, if you didn’t know, is the ability to turn a sequence of attacks into a combo on reaction. The simplest example is with Ken’s cr.LK, cr.LP string. If this string is blocked, Ken is safe and can go for throw mixups, overheads, or defensive play. But if it hits, Ken can go into a HP Shoryuken. The basic skill here is seeing and recognizing that the two light attacks connected or were blocked.
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